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New AMD Athlon II CPUs: The Switch-And-Bait

Six New Athlon II CPUs: AMD Impresses With Switch And Bait
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The bait-and-switch is a sales tactic employed by peddlers of questionable integrity. The idea is to advertise a product or service at a low price and, once the customer is lured into the store, claim that that the advertised product is sold out, but that an inferior one can be purchased for the same price.

For the second time in 2010, AMD is performing the opposite of the bait-and-switch. There are six new Athlon II processors being introduced, and all sport a 100 MHz clock increase over their predecessors (200 MHz in the case of the Athlon II X3 415e) for the same price as the previous models. The replaced models will, of course, be available at a lower price. This is the sort of tactic that has sleazy used-car salesmen across the globe collectively scratching their heads.

Now, to put things in perspective, technology does tend to become cheaper over time. Having said that, a couple hundred MHz over a few months is welcome, no matter how you slice it. In addition, these CPUs are created on a new C3 version of silicon. Thus, there's also the potential for higher overclocks (something we'll be exploring in a future review).

For now, let's look at the new revisions in the Athlon II lineup:

Athlon II X2 260


Athlon II X2 260Athlon II X2 255Athlon II X2 250
Codename: RegorRegorRegor
Process: 45 nm 45 nm 45 nm
CPU Cores: 2 2 2
Clock Speed: 3.2 GHz
3.1 GHz3.0 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache: 2 x 64KB
2 x 64KB2 x 64KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 1MB
2 x 1MB2 x 1MB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
4,000 MT/s4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
65W
65W65W

Up until now, AMD has reserved the 3.2 GHz clock speed for the premium Phenom II line. Aside from that, the new C3 stepping allows for DDR2-1066 and DDR3-1333 support. The Athlon II X2 260 represents a good processor for the majority of casual users. Internet surfers and document editors will be happy with this model and its $76 MSRP, but multi-taskers and gamers might be happier with the Athlon II X3.

Athlon II X3 445


Athlon II X3 445Athlon II X3 440
Athlon II X3 435
Codename: RanaRanaRana
Process: 45 nm 45 nm 45 nm
CPU Cores: 3
33
Clock Speed: 3.1 GHz
3.0 GHz2.9 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 64KB
3 x 64KB3 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512KB
3 x 512KB3 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
4,000 MT/s4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
95W
95W95W

The 3.1 GHz Athlon II X3 is getting even better, running 200 MHz faster than the original 435 model that impressed us upon its launch with a great price/performance ratio. We like this processor's combination of high clock speed, triple-core configuration for basic multitasking and gaming use, and sub-$90 price tag.

Athlon II X4 635


Athlon II X4 640Athlon II X4 635
Athlon II X4 630
Codename: PropusPropusPropus
Process: 45 nm 45 nm 45 nm
CPU Cores: 4
44
Clock Speed: 3.0 GHz
2.9 GHz2.8 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   4 x 64KB
4 x 64KB4 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   4 x 512KB
4 x 512KB4 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
4,000 MT/s4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
95W
95W95W

The new Athlon II X4 640 pushes budget quad-core performance to 3.0 GHz. This has the markings of a strong workstation processor with a $122 MSRP, although Intel does offer up compelling competition at this level with the Core i3-530. We're looking forward to pitting these CPUs against one another in an upcoming roundup.

Energy-Efficient Models:

Athlon II X2 245e


Athlon II X2 245e
Athlon II X2 240e
Codename: RegorRegor
Process: 45 nm 45 nm
CPU Cores: 2
2
Clock Speed: 2.9 GHz
2.8 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache: 2 x 64KB
2 x 64KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 1MB2 x 1MB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
45W
45W

The new Athlon II X2 245e sports a modest 2.9 GHz clock speed. But at a similar $77 price as the Athlon II X2 640, it's a hard sell to recommend the 20W savings in exchange for a 300 MHz clock speed reduction. This is likely a model that will be most attractive to businesses with large PC deployments, which stand to save on large-scale power reductions and can get away with a performance compromise.

Athlon II X3 415e


Athlon II X3 415e
Athlon II X3 405e
Codename: RanaRana
Process: 45 nm 45 nm
CPU Cores: 3
3
Clock Speed: 2.5 GHz
2.3 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   3 x 64KB
3 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   3 x 512KB
3 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
45W
45W

The 415e actually provides the only 200 MHz increase in this processor refresh. At $102, the 2.5 GHz Athlon II X3 415e isn't about performance though; it's charter is delivering optimal performance-per-watt. Its 45W max TDP is perhaps most promising in HTPC applications.

Athlon II X4 610e


Athlon II X4 610e
Athlon II X4 605e
Codename: PropusPropus
Process: 45 nm 45 nm
CPU Cores: 4
4
Clock Speed: 2.4 GHz
2.3 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:   4 x 64KB
4 x 64KB
L2 Cache:   4 x 512KB
4 x 512KB
HyperTransport: 4,000 MT/s
4,000 MT/s
Thermal Envelope:
45W
45W

The new Athlon II X4 610e represents AMD's quad-core offering to low-power workstation users. Weighing in with a 45W TDP, this CPU sports a similar 100 MHz clock increase over the Athlon II X4 605e, but the anemic 2.4 GHz clock and $143 price tag will likely not inspire the performance-hungry. Again, though, this processor is more about augmenting efficiency.

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